Tuesday, July 21, 2009

contemplating healthier baking

So, one of the topics I continue to obsess about (because I do like to think and re-think things) is healthier baking. I've written about that before. I love to bake, but I'm interested in more wholesome baked goods for "everyday"-- for example, just this weekend Faith wanted pumpkin bread, so I made her some and it was delicious and all, and I threw in half-whole wheat flour, for nutrition, but still, it was so very cakelike! I'd just like to have something like that I could feel a little bit better about giving the little boys. A couple weeks ago I saw this book in Barnes and Noble and man, is it appealing. Very deliciously photographed baked goods with wholesome flours and non-sugar sweeteners (mostly agave). But the book is vegan and gluten-free--not what I need--so I set it aside. But my interest was certainly piqued again when I saw this post, which suggests that even if you are neither gluten-free nor vegan, why not whip up some healthy baked goods for the nutrition of it, especially if the recipes are fab? But when I went back to look at the book again, I knew I would never make the recipes--the investment in special ingredients is just too high--xantham gum, coconut oil, special dried soy milk powder, specialized gluten-free flours--all together, it adds up to a lot. I can't justify it, plus, I'm trying to simplify my life right now, and buying a whole arsenal of baking goods, which I might not even like, seems counter-intuitive to say the least.
So I decided to shop my own library for recipes more in line with what I am looking for--baked goods made with wholesome whole grains and alternative sweetners. The fats don't matter so much to me. I don't really have a book that fits that description, but I'm searching out individual recipes as they apply. It's actually rather fun.
I made a little list of appealing recipes to get me started, and am gathering up the (much more reasonable) ingredients. Will keep you posted.

This morning we are off to Santa Barbara very early for Rainer's outpatient surgery appointment (a type of chemo that goes into his spinal fluid). We've done this a gazillion times, so it's not scary and it's much less frequent now (only once every 3 months). After that, we'll be off to Crushcakes--another one of my little food obsessions. Fortunately, Ken and Rainer don't mind. Have a great Wednesday!

11 comments:

Adrienne said...

I have a cookbook called Whole Foods for the Whole Family. It is a La Leche League cookbook, and I make quite a few whole wheat recipes from there...our pancakes, waffles, cornbread, biscuits, zucc bread, applesauce bread and a bunch of other wonderful quick breads and muffins. Everyone always loves them and asks for their recipes. I could send you some ...They all have honey, but here is a link to replacing with alternative sweeteners...http://www.allaboutagave.com/substituting-agave-nectar-for-other-sugars.php

Andrea said...

This is my favorite healthy cookie recipe: http://remainsofday.blogspot.com/2009/06/healthy-cookies.html
easy and delicious (although only 2/3 of my kids like them...oh well). I also use ww pastry flour in place of white flour in pretty much everything cookie or quick-bread or muffin-like, and maple syrup instead of sugar (use 1/3 less--I know it's expensive but this is new england so we're practically swimming in it!)

Our Green Nest said...

You can healthify pretty much every recipe...just substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all of the flour, flax mixture for eggs, coconut oil for butter/unhealthy oil, and for the sweeteners - sub agave, maple syrup, sucanat, turbinado, etc. etc. I've never had a problem with any recipe using the above ingredients.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes bake as per recipe but substitue garbanzo bean flour. Best if eaten right away...so those lovely next day snacks are not so tastey, but does feel good to know your getting a great punch of fiber + in the kiddos!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this is absolutely correct, but I have read that if you are able to eat gluten, then whole wheat is actually better for health than the other types of flours involved in the gluten free flours. Obviously, those who have Celiac's Disease or are giving up wheat for another reason are better off without the gluten, others are much better off w/ whole wheat flour. I am starting to wonder if gluten free is the next new health craze joining low fat, antioxidents, and so on. Just a thought.

hanna said...

this is something I am always thinking about too. I love baking but I tend to gobble it up quickly! Sometimes I ban myself from baking so there's no sweet things in the house.
I've started making wholemeal crackers (from this recipe http://stripysockstudio.com/index.php/site/entry/absolutely-crackers/) which is a good alternative to snack on during the day.

periwinkle said...

my mam is coeliac , so eats gluten free, she doesn't use any of the " posh stuff" and makes the most amazing cakes , pies etc . Even chocolate eclairs which taste so much nicer than the normal ones, it can be done :-)

Mary Beth said...

Thank you so much to everyone who commented. You are right--I should just take the plunge and start adapting my own recipes and see how it goes. I'm such a direction follower I feel I need specific recipes that have been pre-tested, but maybe not so much.

Andrea--thanks for the link, I will definitely try those--they look yummy.

Elizabeth said...

I try and only bake things that have fruit or veg as the main ingredient--like banana or courgette muffins. I have found that I can general halve the sugar in any recipe and it tastes fine--but then again-we don't eat processed sugar foods, which are far too sweet for us. We almost always use a whole wheat flour. I mix the gluten free with regular to lower our wheat intake, and so I don't have to worry about the xanthum gum. Another trick for those who do use the gluten free flours-an extra egg usually binds the cake so it doesn't become to crumbly.

Wheat free baking is taxing--so our compromise was to cut out breads, for the occasional baked treat. For breads we can make chick pea (garbanzo beans) flatbreads--and that helps with the sandwich dilema. Buckwheat flour isn't a wheat flour--and makes lovely pancakes--make savory pancakes and spread a bit of jam on them to sweeten them. Or just add blueberries and no sugar to the mixture.
The little boys are young enough for you to eliminate sugary foods and for them to enjoy the baked treat with half the sugar. We only crave what we know.

Going wheat free is probably better for most people--but cutting it back significantly is a help as well. It's not a dietary gimmick--coelic and wheat intolerance are a real problem--and the more 'hidden' wheat people eat the more it hurts us. We weren't meant to eat wheat--at least not in its processed form. You can get all the nutrients you need without eating wheat.

AndieF said...

I have a Whole Foods book too (not the Whole Family one), and I pick things from that on occassion, but mostly what I've done is similar to what you've done - looked through my 3 or 4 favorite cookbooks, and found recipes and made them "healthier". It's working for us.

Aunt Kirstie said...

I still use my Joy of Cooking & Betty Crocker cookbooks for almost everything I cook. I substitute Whole Wheat pastry flour for white in most of my recipes and it works fine. I sometimes use half white depending on what I am making. This is if I am cooking for myself and my son. My husband has Celiac and I still use those same cookbooks but I substitute the flour with a mixture of several different gluten free options depending on what I am cooking. It took some experience & experimentation to really get comfortable with this and to create something edible. If I did not have to worry about gluten I would not do it!

After reading and experimenting so much throughout my adult life, I learned that for me the best thing is to keep it simple and basic and to keep everything in moderation.